Monday, June 26, 2017

The Letter S by Mary Deal



Drop the letter s. If you believe that one letter couldn’t possibly cause you to receive a rejection, I encourage you to think again, especially if the same mistake recurs throughout your manuscript.

Incorrect usage comes from the lax attitude about our English language. Most people speak in jargon or a brogue that comes from a certain locale. I call it family hand-me-down language.  Truth is, no matter from where you hail, your written grammar must be correct for the broader reading audience.

I’m speaking of the letter s. Check out these sentences:
She ran towards the garage.
The ball rolled backwards.
Look upwards.

These sentences are all incorrect. That is, the use of the letter s is incorrect.
The letter s denotes something plural. In the first sentence, moving toward something means you can only go in one direction. Toward.

If the ball rolled backward, it can only go in one direction. Backward.
To look upward, you can only look in one direction. Upward.
Not surprising, an example of an exception is:
She leaned sideways.

The rule here is that when leaning, you can lean sideways in more than one direction, therefore the use of the letter s.

You’ll find many other words that are incorrectly used with s endings. When you find these, make note of them, maybe a running list. You’ll have the list to refer back to when you question your own writing.

This is but one of the finite idiosyncrasies of producing better grammar when writing stories and books that you hope to sell. Study your own language and speech.

Watch how the s is used or omitted in books that you love to read.


Get into the habit of listening to the speech patterns of others. Think critically of what you hear, but never criticize of a person who speaks that way. Instead, mentally analyze what you have heard. Learn the right from the wrong of speech and your writing will reflect your knowledge.


Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*




Thursday, June 8, 2017

A WRITER’S FANFARE by Patricia Crandall

In the nineteen fifties, my interest was captured by the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene. Each holiday I would request the latest Nancy Drew title and on receiving it I would curl-up in an over-sized chair and begin reading the fast-paced adventure.
            Whereby, I dabbled at creating my own mystery stories at an early age. My first effort detailed a long, frightening chase by a sinister man. A dark tunnel appeared, leading to (of course) a haunted mansion. The not-so-brilliant ending had me saved by the man of my life at the time – my father.
            My parents and teachers would often tell me, “Patty, you are a dreamer. You have a vivid imagination. Put it to good use.” It was at that point, in lieu of playing with friends or watching the new small-box-wonder – TV, I sat at an old desk in the kitchen and wrote mystery stories. I also drew stick figures to illustrate the action in the stories. The discovery of boys replaced pen and paper. The telephone became my favorite instrument and I lost interest in reading and writing until a formidable nun taught me English in High School. With a revival of interest, I picked up where I left off, writing saleable poetry and a variety of articles, essays, and short stories. Presently, I am taking a writing course and penning novels.

            Ironically, my mainstream stories have brought me the most success and recognition. I have often wondered, why? I have discovered that although I like to create a good mystery story, I shy from describing extreme violence or gratuitous sex and the uncanny evil bred in psychological serial killers who torture, maim and murder their victims. I prefer to write cozy mystery stories.
            Two favorite characters I have created for general entertainment are Gert Carver and Nina Westacott. Friends for many years, the two women pursue bottle mining and flea market quests. I was fortunate to have a close relationship with two aunts. The idea came to mind to express how their uniqueness affected me as a child. I wished to pass the essence of their warm and zany personalities on to others and I fictionalized them.
*
            In writing mystery stories, I am determined to have justice served. My recent sojourn to the Rensselaer County Courthouse for jury selection impressed me that perpetrators have more rights than victims. It confirmed what I already knew; people are victimized once during the actual crime and once during the detailing of the sordid events leading to the crime at the trial. Can anyone blame a person who refuses to go through a debilitating trial? Hence, the perpetrator gets away with a plea bargain or less and walks away a free man. Often, he/she commits a similar crime. I would like to shadow dedicated professionals and put into writing the need for more honesty and integrity in the justice system.
            Ideas for a writer’s fanfare are everywhere. Newspapers are a good source for material. Headline – Pregnant wife and Baby Survive Murder Plot. What if…?
           
Patricia Crandall
 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Bequest (a poem) by Patricia Crandall


I bequeath to you
grandson
my cottage on Pine Lake.
Being city bred
you never came
to spend a day with me
among my rustic treasures.
I always sought you out
surrounded by electric life.
As grown-up you did come
to collect your inheritance;
came alone and sat
upon a sagging dock
watching children tumble
upon black tubes,
splashing, laughing.
A swimmer's white arms
flashed out of blue waters
pulling toward shoreline.
Sailboats were sailing
rowboats drifting
waves gently wafting
shore-birds fluttering
blueberry bushes drooping
ripe for plucking.
Gray squirrels scattered nuts
from tree limb to tree limb
and you thought only they
heard what you murmured:
"I know now who you were
Grandpa
and who I am going to be."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

WILD GEESE (a poem) by Patricia Crandall


                                                        they        station
                                                         how          their
                                                         is                beckoning
                                                    formation        call
                                                     vee                     is
                                                       a                      heard
                                                     sky                      by
                                                     April                    us
                                                     an                          all
                                                     in                            now
                                                    fly                             comes
                                                  geese                            the
                                                 wild                                quest
                                                                                            where
                                                                                                will
                                                                                                  they
                                                                                                      rest

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

More About Choosing a Subtitle by Mary Deal



The first advice is to try for the main title to say what your story is about. Use of a subtitle would be to further delineate the plot or entice a reader. Then you will need an revealing bit of information for the subtitle.

To decide on a good subtitle:

~ Does it tell what that story’s about?
When your title doesn’t say enough about your story, be careful that you don’t choose a subtitle that is just as non-telling.
The title of my short story and flash collection is Off Center in the Attic. The attic refers to the mind and the phrase is jargon. It suits the types of stories included in the book, but many people will not realize the true meaning – even though my cover shows a disturbed woman in a crumbling attic pulling out her hair. So I added a subtitle: Off Center in the Attic – Over the Top Stories. Everyone knows what over-the-top implies. That subtitle says this book is full of stories that go beyond the usual boundaries of plot situations.

Your subtitle must add to your title and further define it.

~ Does it pull the reader in?
Again, if your original title did not pull the reader in, then your second and last chance to do so is the subtitle. Reading it together with the original title should give the reader an understanding of what to expect from the book. As always, try to assure your subtitle enhances but doesn’t replace the main title.

~ Does it offer the reader something to learn?
Subtitles are used on both fiction and nonfiction. In both cases, the title and subtitle should provide the reader with something they will learn from reading the contents. Or, in nonfiction, the title and subtitle should offer an answer to something the reader seeks to learn.

Here are some great nonfiction titles that need subtitles:

·         Carpentry for Fido: How to Build a Doghouse
·         Synthetic Woods: How to Float a Floor
·         Cooking Today: Shorten Your Kitchen Time

Sample blasé fiction titles and subtitles might be:

·         Jonathan’s Dream: Why it Could Never Come True
·         The Basement: A Secret Storage Room

~ Is it short enough?
Neither a title nor subtitle should ramble. I’ve seen some. Take my word for it. When it comes time to tell others about your book, you don’t want to spend a whole minute quoting your title and sub-title. You want most of that all-too-brief minute spent on quoting your logline and a bit of your synopsis.
Long titles and sub-titles can easily become your undoing. People move fast these days. They read that way too. Make your titles and sub-titles short and to the point. People sometimes have only seconds to snatch at something to remember and they will remember shorter titles.



  BIO:

Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers' references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.

She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California's Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.

            LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

           LINK TO SMASHWORDS AUTHOR PAGE




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Choosing a Subtitle by Mary Deal



Sometimes you can conjure what you think is the best title ever for your book. No one has used that title and there is nothing close to it in all of literature. Then, after a while, you begin to wonder if your great title covers all that your book entails. You search for a new title but always return to the one you first chose. It is that good!
So you begin to wonder about using a subtitle. Subtitles used to be seen as a way to enhance a weak title. However, at the writing of this article, the consensus is that utilizing a subtitle provides a great chance to tell more about your book. Use a subtitle, realizing however, that some titles will never need a subtitle.

What subtitle would you add to Gone with the Wind or The Old Man and the Sea?

Peruse book selling sites and notice any recent books that have no subtitles. Notice those that use subtitles. You will get a feel for when to use and when not to use.
Usually a title will tell the overall feeling or story without giving away any exact details. Using a subtitle allows you to hint at more of the detail.

Subtitles must be as short as possible. I have seen books with eight to ten words in the title alone, and then a subtitle with the same number or more words is added. This represents not only a misuse of a subtitle but shows an overall title not well thought out.
Your subtitle should give the strongest clue as to what the story is about. Choosing a subtitle because your title is not necessarily weak but is broad inclusively, your subtitle will draw the reader in. Think of it. The title is unique and catches the reader’s attention. Then the subtitle tells more of what the reader can expect of the prose. I use prose here because nonfiction, even books like cookbooks, sometimes have subtitles.
The reader will need to learn something about the book from the subtitle. Never use a subtitle with the intention of keeping the reader’s eyes glued to your cover. It doesn’t work that way. Every word must offer the reader something to learn about the book. A lackluster subtitle leaves the potential book buyer with a ho-hum feeling.
Your title can be anything from plain and simple to quirky. Whatever it represents will be enhanced and enticing through the subtitle.


  BIO:

Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers' references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.

She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California's Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.

            LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

           LINK TO SMASHWORDS AUTHOR PAGE



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Effect of Titles by Mary Deal



Your story title is the first word or words a person sees when looking for a book to read. Yes, they see the cover, but the title is the first bit of information they read. What if your title is...

uninteresting
a bit offensive
similar to so many others
doesn’t give a clue about the plot

Those are just a few instances where an author can lose a sale before the book is opened for perusal; before the prospective buyer flips the book to read the back cover.
In selecting either paper books to buy or eBooks to download, we can now read a percentage of the book, either the first few chapters or we can jump to various pages therein. When perusing sites that offer downloadable books, the same problems occur in identifying about which story to learn more. If a title and cover on that site doesn’t appeal to you, do you bother to read the blurbs describing the eBook? Do you read the first chapters that have been made available in an attempt to capture your interest?
Many writers do not think through the meaning of their titles. As a result, it’s difficult to determine anything about the plot. Some solutions could be:
Use a very short phrase that tells the theme.
Down to the Needle is the title of one of my novels. It’s about an innocent young woman facing lethal injection for a crime she didn’t do. The case goes all the way into the lethal injection chamber. When something keeps happening until the last possible moment,  in ordinary speech we use a cliché, saying it goes down to the wire. Knowing the story is a thriller, Down to the Needle tells the one perusing to buy a mystery that this story is either about the needle (drugs) or lethal injection, or both. If that incites their interest, they then read the book blurb and learn the gist of the plot.

You can use a wee bit of great dialogue for a title.
Remember the best seller, Who Moved my Cheese? That was a one-liner throughout the book and made a prospective buyer think about what the content might be about. A phrase that makes a person wonder about the inside of the book is a great title.
How many times in a book store, when looking for a great new read, have you looked at all the titles in a row. Only the spines are turned out. You pass on many until you find an interesting title. That, in itself, proves the value of using a phrase that incites curiosity.
Titles need to be thought carefully through. Titles can cause the shopper to investigate further or buy, or it can cause a person to move on to something that seems more interesting. Test this premise yourself the next time you look for a new read.



  BIO:

Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers' references, and self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor.

She has traveled most of her life and has a lifetime of many and diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California's Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, and now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Having traveled a bit, she continues to paint and use her art and photography to create gorgeous products.

            LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

           LINK TO SMASHWORDS AUTHOR PAGE



The Letter S by Mary Deal

Drop the letter s . If you believe that one letter couldn’t possibly cause you to receive a rejection, I encourage you to think again, ...